What Goals Should Proper Estate Planning Accomplish?
There is an unlimited number of goals a person can accomplish with an estate plan. Common goals include the following:
#1 Save money by protecting your assets from unnecessary probate costs.
#2 Make things easier for your family. Most people do not want to subject their families to the expense, stress, and headaches that come with the probate process. Advanced planning can greatly reduce the financial and emotional impacts on a family because it:
- Creates organization
- Streamlines the process for transferring assets
- Reduces the risk of getting a court involved in your estate
#3 Reduce the chance of an inheritance being wasted. Leave money and other assets to children or grandchildren to help pay for things like education or buying a home but without giving them unrestricted access to any money until the age(s) you deem appropriate.
#4 Nominate a guardian for minor children. If a parent does not nominate a guardian to serve as a surrogate parent for any minor kids, then a court will not know whom the parent would have wanted to raise the children. Sometimes this becomes a problem when people apply to the court to become a guardian and the judge hearing the case has no idea whom the deceased parent would have chosen. At least if there is a writing showing whom the parent would have wanted in the guardian role, that can help the judge make the best pick.
#5 Maintain control over your assets after your lifetime. Sometimes people have very specific things they want done with their money or other assets after they are gone. Some common examples are:
- Setting aside funds for scholarships for students interested in particular fields
- Helping family members achieve certain life goals, like starting a business or buying a home
- Setting aside funds to pay for your pets’ continued care
#6 Prevent family arguments over financial or health care matters. When your financial and medical choices are clearly spelled out in an estate plan, there is less for family members to fight about. Family members may not like the decisions that you make, but when the estate plan is well written and comprehensive, it is less likely your plan will be disrupted by disgruntled family members. There is more to fight about when things are unclear.
#7 Help you select someone to make financial and/or medical decisions for you. One of the great benefits of an estate plan is that you get to authorize another person to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions yourself. Giving this kind of pre-authorization can be incredibly convenient, especially when there is an emergency, decisions need to be made, and action needs to be taken. In addition, it can also save potentially many, many thousands of dollars because when decisions need to be made and there is no estate plan, sometimes the only option left is to seek a conservatorship through the court. Conservatorships are extremely paperwork-intensive and expensive.
#8 Keep your assets, debts and identities of your beneficiaries private. If you rely on the probate process to transfer your assets, you risk making public your assets, debts, and beneficiaries’ names.
For more information about Goals Of Estate Planning an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (707) 900-4500 today.
The ideas discussed in this article are for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The reader should consult with an attorney to determine what is in the reader’s own best interest.